Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Instagram also on its way out? What we should be teaching students.

This has been my observation over the past year, what do you think?


I will go on record and say that Instagram is also on its way out.  For those of you that don't know Instagram is now owned by Facebook and we will see it rolled deeper and deeper into their product until the Instagram name is no more.  In fact, the article says Instagram has seen no growth in teenage demographic over the past year.  Twitter has been a hot spot this year.  What I find funny is I first started talking to students about twitter when I joined 6 years ago.  They all mocked me and said twitter was dumb.  Well I guess I was correct.

Here is where this conversation is going.  How do these companies make money?  From the data they collect on you.  You are not the consumer, but the product.   They are selling your data to advertising companies.  This is why the adds  you see in these services are so relevant.  Now, most people don't think about that or don't care, but my second prediction is that eventually people will and we will see a backlash agains companies like google, facebook, and twitter.  The question is will it get to the point where people want a service like twitter and facebook, but privacy from advertisers.  That is where app.net comes in.  This is my prediction.  We will get to the point where people want a social network that they have control of and be willing to pay "real money" in stead of their data. I bring this up for a few reasons.  It is really important that students wrestle with these topics and understand that someone is making money whatever the business model.  Servers don't run themselves for free.  

How far are we willing to go in terms of our privacy?  Are we willing to give up information about ourselves for a better experience?  Some would argue yes.  Look at the benefit we get from google.  In the "olden days" we would have to search for restaurant Summerlin or restaurant Las Vegas.  Now Google already knows you are in Las Vegas and will give you results for that.  However, it is really obnoxious when we are planning a trip and searching for restaurants in Boston then we need to specify to google that we want restaurants in Boston. This also affects how students do research.  A student that searches for American Revolution in Las Vegas will get different results from American Revolution search done by kids in Concord, MA or London.  Are we teaching these skills to students?  How do we get out of our private search bubbles that have been tailored to us? 

 If you are interested in these topics of privacy, research and filters please check out the following: I had the opportunity to see Eli Pariser keynote a conference last summer on Search Bubbles and Online Filters.  You can see his TED talk here:  http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html 

 You can also find a somewhat counter point of view in Jeff Jarvis's book Public Parts:How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live

 These are important things that we need to think about ourselves and with our students.